The big daddy of the Vinh Moc tunnels: Cu Chi's tunnels are a huge network spanning hundreds of kilometres underground.
They were built by the Viet Minh (the same as the Viet Cong, but an earlier name for them) during the French War. Subsequently, they were used to fight against the Americans, to devastating effect. The tunnels were so well hidden that one of them famously had an entrance/exit in the middle of an American base. It stayed undiscovered for years.
The day was moving and one that really hit home the horror of war; more so than anywhere else we visited.
We were shown a vast array of booby traps, designed to horrificly injure, debilitate, disfigure and sometimes, if the victim was lucky, to kill. From simple spikes stuck in a rice paddy and hidden by the water, to welcome US parachutists as they land; to traps which encased someone's leg, ramming spikes down the entire length; to beds of eight inch iron nails which would swing down and impale a US soldier kicking open a door.
Dotted around were rifleman points: holes in the ground, camouflaged by a wooden lid covered in leaves. A Viet Cong would wait to hear the Americans pass over before popping his or her head out and shooting them in the back. A tunnel led them to safety. The Vietnamese are significantly smaller than Westerners: Mark could only get in this far!
Tanks were left abandoned, their tracks blown off by a mine. We could still see the bullet marks around the sides and turret, tracing the path of the American occupants trying to flee.
Only 100m of the tunnels are open: the rest are home to snakes and other wild animals. 100m was enough.
Entrances every 30m were used by most of the tour group to escape the cloying humidity and the immense claustrophobia as the clay walls clamped down on our limbs. We crawled through virtual darkness on our hands and knees. The only awareness of others in the tunnel came from headbutting the bum of the person in front as they navigated through the blackness.
It was eerie and disturbing to emerge out of the tunnels into a small hut to the sounds of nearby gunfire. It was only the nearby rifle range but the noise was phenomenal and we felt like we'd gone back in time thirty years. It was only a glimpse of what it was like during the war, but enough to know that we never want to be involved.
Given this, Mark was reluctant to have a go on the rifle range but it was too good an opportunity to miss. Paying an exhorbitant five dollars got five bullets for an AK47 which Mark fired into a cow at 20 metres. A picture of a cow that is...the rumours of firing bazookas at grazing cows appeared unfounded.